Planet Mars from 5.5 million kilometers
This picture, taken on 1 December 2003 from the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft by the High Resolution Stereo Camera, shows Mars as seen from a distance of about 5.5 million kilometers. This is a
very unusual view because the planet is illuminated in a way never seen from Earth. The sun shines on part of the western hemisphere, but more than a third of the Martian disc lies in the dark. The dark features at
the top are part of the northern lowlands of Mars, where oceans possibly existed thousands of millions of years ago.
photo credit: ESA
The Beagle-2 lander is due to separate from the spacecraft on Dec. 19, and it will settle on the surface of Mars in the early hours of Dec. 25, to look for signs of life on he Red Planet. One of the instruments
onboard Mars Express, ASPERA-3, was partially funded by NASA as a Discovery Mission of Opportunity.
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